Simulated cities


Micropolis is a game that links the very latest kind of urban planning, as seen in A/B Street above, to an old 8-bit classic that's been around since 1989. That's because Micropolis is built from the source code of the original urban planning game, SimCity, whose code was released as GPLv3 in 2008, partly thanks to the One Laptop Per Child project. SimCity has obviously gone through many iterations since then, but there's a great charm and immediacy in playing the original version that's sometimes lost in the later more ambitious releases. Micropolis also requires very little CPU power and will run on anything – there's a great version for old Palm devices, including the WristPDA, if you still have any of them around, for example, or try running it on a Raspberry Pi handheld.

The Linux version still runs well, and it's amazing to load it up in the 21st century and see the various simulated scenarios running so quickly. If you've not played before, the main aim of the game is to create a functional and expanding city, building the road network, zoning industrial and residential areas, and investing in police, health, and emergency services, all while giving more scrutiny to the plethora of incoming data than the average politician. If this sandbox mode seems a little serene, then there are various pre-set scenarios that challenge you to solve an imminent crisis. These include the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the bombing of Hamburg in 1944, and a fictitious nuclear meltdown in Boston (set in the then distant future of 2010). These disaster scenarios have become a game cliche and have been copied in many other games, but it's also easy to forget just how immediate and fun they can be – 30 years after they were created.

Project Website

The retro feel in Micropolis even extends to the original low-fi audio samples, which immediately transport you back to early '90s sound capabilities.

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